UPDATE (11:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 2, 2023): A man accused of setting a fire at a home that spread to nearby buildings in Williamson is now facing multiple charges, including arson.
According to a criminal complaint from Mingo County Magistrate Court, Eugene Kitchen, 54, of Williamson, is facing three counts of arson, one count of trespassing and one count of obstruction of an officer.
The complaint states Kitchen is accused of going into a home on Mulberry Street without the owner’s permission. Authorities say Kitchen allegedly stated he had gone up the steps to a porch and gone inside because he was “looking for a place to rent.”
Witnesses near the scene told authorities the fire broke out within minutes of Kitchen leaving the area, according to the complaint. Authorities say the fire spread to two more homes. Crews on scene Wednesday night told WOWK 13 News that a total of five structures had caught fire, with the wind being the biggest obstacle in containing the blaze. The complaint states the three residential homes that caught fire were completely destroyed.
According to the complaint, officers found and detained Kitchen on Wednesday evening. Authorities say he allegedly initially denied being in the area of the fire, but later admitted to lying about his whereabouts. The complaint states he allegedly admitted to being the only person at the home and that he “may have accidentally” started the fire.
WILLIAMSON, WV (WOWK) – One person is in custody in connection to a fire in Williamson being investigated as arson.
According to fire officials, crews are working to extinguish a fire that has spread to five buildings on Mulberry Road in Williamson, and authorities believe two of the buildings were intentionally set on fire. The mayor says the wind is causing difficulty in getting the blaze under control.
According to Williamson Police Chief JC Dotson three of the buildings are abandoned structures, two of which have been completely destroyed. Viewer drone footage shared with WOWK 13 News shows flames and smoke coming from the roofs, and at least two of the buildings have been destroyed.
At this time, authorities say a suspect whom witnesses allegedly saw leaving the area after the fire started has been taken into custody. According to Dotson, Eugene Kitchen, 54, of Williamson was seen walking down 119 around 4:15 p.m. and arrested.
Dotson says Kitchen is being arraigned in court and could face charges including arson and providing false information to a police officer.
No injuries as a result of the fire are being reported.